Chicago students accustomed to making regular culinary pilgrimages to the Cermak Avenue Chinatown will be pleased to learn that the largest Chinatown in continental Europe is just a short walk from the Center in Paris. Chinatown in the 13th arrondissement sprang up when the "boat people" began arriving from Vietnam in the late 1970's and early 1980's. Prior to this influx, most of the old working-class neighborhood on the western edge of the 13th had already been torn down and replaced by impersonal (read ugly) high-rise buildings. While Parisians tended to avoid this universe of concrete, the new immigrants found here improved conditions and a new Promised Land where rents were cheap and there was plenty of space. In 1982 the first Chinese store opened its doors—the area now boasts over 150 restaurants. Avoid Chinatown on Mondays when nothing much happens and most of the restaurants are closed.
Directions: Departing from the Center, Chinatown is a 20- to 25-minute walk southwest on Avenue Tolbiac (Keep going until you arrive at the point where rue de Tolbiac, ave. d’Ivry and ave. de Choisy converge.) or take a quick (one-stop) Métro ride on #14 from Bibliothèque to Olympiades. Chinatown is inscribed in the triangle formed by ave. d'Ivry (to the east), ave. de Choisy (to the west) and blvd. Masséna (to the south).